packaged goods

New Depend Line Acts More Like Underwear

Depends for Women and for Men

Is it possible to buy an adult-absorbent product like Kimberly-Clark's Depend brand without acting like a shoplifter -- burying it beneath the paper towels? The company hopes so, with a new addition to the Depend line that is packaged and designed like high-end underwear, with the men's line having a different look and design than the women's.

It comes in a variety pack of six colored and printed underwear: solid and striped patterns for men; pastel solids and florals for women. Packaging has a transparent product window resembling a multi-pack of traditional underwear.

The new line, "Depend Underwear for Men" and "Depend Underwear for Women," debuts in April with the largest media buy in the history of the brand, per Blake Boulden, Depend brand manager.

Boulden tells Marketing Daily the campaign follows last year's introduction of the first Depend product that had different SKUs for men and women. "That was a big step; it gave us the foundation to start building the brand and category," he says. "One thing we talk to consumers about is the desire for greater normalcy -- getting away from white 'diapers' and getting closer to regular underwear."



With the new extension, the company is, in a sense, preparing for an influx of boomers, now 50 and older. "Boomers are coming in, and their expectations and relationship with brands are different than the generations before," says Boulden, adding that the new products are also in demand from current customers. "One-third of [consumers in the category] we are talking with are willing to pay more for something that's more like underwear."

The new look comes with a premium about 50% above the traditional package, which holds 18 pair of Depend. The six-piece package of the new SKU costs between $6 and $7, per Boulden, who says the higher price doesn't deter buyers. "Seventy-nine percent of consumers said they would definitely buy or probably buy at these price points."

The campaign comprises TV, print, digital and grassroots efforts, with the message that Depend "lets me keep my condition invisible so I can stay visible," per Boulden, who says the company found that peoples' fear of being "outed" as incontinent can lead them to withdraw from social activities. "As we pressed on this, we found there are things we are all known for -- that people know a lot of things about me, but they don't want to know about my condition."

Boulden says print ads, with a "stoic confidence" theme, show people pursuing their interests. TV spots that focus on Depend users leading active lives use a handheld, documentary approach, like "The Office," which Boulden says was an inspiration for the creative style. In one spot, a grandfather, his son and his grandkids are on a camping trip. The father explains to the camera that his dad is known for lots of things, such as not being the best person for setting up tents and his ability to start a fire with a wet sponge.

Boulden says Depend is a growth brand for the company. "We are making additional investments for this campaign because it reframes the category from the stigma of incontinence toward the holy grail of products that are like regular underwear."

TV ads will run across cable and network the first week of April, with print targeting a range of publications, including those that skew younger than traditional target publications for such products. "The average age of Depend customers is 67, but people coming in tend to be younger, on average in their mid-50's," says Boulden.

The company is also doing its largest sampling program to date, with samples to be distributed to some 2,000 urologists and internists.


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